Willows hat trick helps UNH even series at 1-1
New Hampshire's Matt Willows gets the puck past Providence College goaltender Jon Gillies (32) in the first period during a college hockey game on Saturday March 16, 2013, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Bob Breidenbach) NO SALES
New Hampshire's Brett Pesce (22) during the second period of a college hockey game on Saturday March 16, 2013, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Bob Breidenbach) NO SALES
New Hampshire's Eric Knodel (5) checks Providence College's Nick Saracino (18) during a college hockey game on Saturday March 16, 2013, in Providence, R.I. (AP Photo/Providence Journal, Bob Breidenbach) NO SALES
PROVIDENCE, R.I. – Sophomore Matt Willows notched his first career hat trick and the seventh-ranked University of New Hampshire men’s hockey team skated past No. 17 Providence College, 4-1, yesterday afternoon at Schneider Area to stave off elimination and even their best-of-three Hockey East quarterfinal series one game apiece.
The fifth-seeded Wildcats (19-10-7, 13-8-6 Hockey East) forced a third and decisive game against the fourth-seeded Friars (16-13-7, 13-8-6 HEA) this afternoon at 4:30 p.m. (NESN) in Providence.
Junior Kevin Goumas racked up assists on all three of Willows’s goals to increase his team-leading assist total to 32, and junior Jeff Silengo scored his third goal of the season in his return from a six-game injury absence because of a concussion.
Sophomore goaltender Casey DeSmith made 38 saves to improve his record to 18-8-7 on the season; he upped his career postseason record to 2-3-0.
The Wildcats grabbed a 1-0 lead at 15:19 of the first period when Willows scored his sixth goal of the season. The right winger received a pass from Goumas in the right circle, weaved into the slot and went forehand to beat Providence goalie Jon Gillies glove-side. Brett Pesce tallied a secondary assist, his fourth of the year.
Providence held an 11-7 shot advantage in the first period.
Willows made it 2-0 at 1:45 of the second period. Freshman Dan Correale used the end wall behind Gillies to feed Goumas deep on the right side. Goumas shoveled over to Willows in the left circle, and the sophomore found the back of the net for his second goal of the game.
The Friars retaliated less than two minutes later when Nick Saracino scored a power-play goal, gathering in a head-man pass from John Gilmour and depositing it past DeSmith to trim UNH’s advantage to 2-1 at 3:32 of the second period. Gillies was credited with a secondary assist as Providence snapped UNH’s streak of 27 straight killed-off penalties. It was Saracino’s third goal of the series and sixth against the ’Cats this season. The Friars outshot the Wildcats, 12-11, in the middle frame.
UNH recaptured a two-goal advantage at 17:33 of the third period when Silengo took a feed from Eric Knodel and snapped it past Gillies (20 saves) for a 3-1 lead.
Willows capped the scoring by depositing a Goumas pass into the empty net at 18:23 of the third for his eighth goal of the season. Providence held a decided 16-6 shot advantage in the final period for a total shot advantage of 39-24.
Providence went 1-for-3 on the power play, and UNH went 0-for-1 on the power play.